Bulletproof vests now standard issue in law enforcement - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Bulletproof vests now standard issue in law enforcement

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

When Sgt. David Howe got into law enforcement nearly 30 years ago, a bullet-resistant vest wasn't standard issue. His parents bought him one.

"Every day since then, I've been wearing a ballistic vest when I'm on the street," said Howe.

These days, body armor comes standard issue. As a Columbia Police training officer, Howe's responsible for making sure recruits know just how vital the vests are.

Inside the vest, layers of a material called Kevlar catch and hopefully stop most of what an officer could face on the street. The more layers, the more stopping power.

While CPD's SWAT team has vests with extra ceramic plating, most officers wear a vest like this under their clothes. It might seem form fitting, but it's far from comfortable.

"During normal class setting, it's not bad," said Howe. "But when you're out in the street, it's a hundred degrees, you're in the middle of an intersection directing traffic and it's 105 degrees with a heat index, hot cars going by, it makes it very difficult to wear."

But it's easy to see why they're so important. Richland County Senior Deputy Sheila Aull is alive because she was wearing hers Tuesday when she was shot in the chest. It's just another example Sgt. Howe can use as he trains the next generation.

"With the position I have at CPD, it's the foremost thought in my mind because I want everyone to go home safe," said Howe.

Copyright 2013 WIS. All rights reserved.

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